Regular readers will recall how I told of coming across the amazing story of the wreck of the ‘Strathmore’ in an old copy of the Illustrated London News.
Following my research for that story, I examined the findings of a Court of Inquiry held at the Police Office, at Stanley, in the Falkland Islands, onSeptember 8, 1881, before George Anderson, S.M., and Charles Thomas Smith, J.P., assisted by Thomas Hughes and James Anderson as Nautical Assessors. It considered the stranding of the ketch also named ‘Strathmore’ on the night of August 16, 1881 on the beach at Circular Head. It also suggests to me that the name of ‘Strathmore’ is perhaps an unfortunate one.
The evidence in this case showed that the ketch ‘Strathmore’, with a registered tonnage of 895, was loaded at Circular Head with 104 tons of potatoes.
It seems that Captain Harry Fisk, whose certificate of competency was numbered 83, was the master of the ‘Strathmore’. His ship lay at anchor in the bay during the days of August 13 to 16, until about 10 p.m. on the evening of the 16th, when during an easterly gale, it began to bump heavily, unshipped the rudder, and broke the wheel spindle.
The port anchor was then slipped, and she held on to the starboard anchor until she canted to starboard. The captain called for the jib and staysail to be hoisted, and she went ashore about 300 yards to the S.W. of the jetty. While lying aground torch lights were seen on board, which were mistaken for danger signals, and replied to by the S.S. “Glenelg,” then lying at the wharf. A boat manned by four men put off from the ‘Glenelg’ to render assistance to the ‘Strathmore’ and in consequence of the overturning of the boat all the men were drowned.
After the shipwreck it was arranged that a survey was held on the cargo, and the damage estimated at £250.
The vessel was got off the shore, and underwent repairs.
Ultimately the court found that the stranding was caused by the fault of the master, Harry Adolphus Fisk.
First - because without sufficient cause he lay for three days in Circular Head Bay in place of proceeding on his voyage. Second - because he showed a want of judgment in taking up a position in dangerous proximity to the shore in shallow water. Third - because he showed a want of ordinary prudence and caution in not either proceeding on his voyage or coming to the shelter of the jetty during the afternoon of the 16th when the gale from the east was increasing.
The decision of Geo. Anderson, S.M. & Chas. Smith, J.P. was to direct that the certificate of competency of the master, H. A. Fisk, be suspended for three months from this date, and that he pay the costs of this inquiry, amounting to £5. 1s.
It leaves us wondering about those poor lads from the ‘Glenelg’ who went to their assistance and what the fate of the ‘Strathmore’ was after repair and was Captain Harry was still in command?